I know. It’s been some time. I’ve been busy doing different things, but take a few minutes so I can tell you about my day. As most mornings, my bladder woke me up a lovely 30 minutes before my alarm. Sometimes this is welcomed. Not so much today. The best part about waking up to my bladder, is then going back to bed. My nice warm bed. A short time later, the gentle buzz of my watch let me know it was time to rise and sparkle. Friday! I was booked to teach at school. So, I popped on the kettle to start my daily routine of lemon and ginger water, followed by some yoga stretches, affirmations, and a prayer. With Josh still in bed, I don’t usually talk first thing in the morning, but for the past week my voice had been popping in and out, and I wanted to check that she was up for my classes today. No. She had reluctantly stayed with me while I had been teaching for the past week, but today she decided to call in sick. I figured I should probably to do the same. With all the health changes I’ve been making, I was super pleased that my voice didn’t get into a nasty fight with my throat. Normally. the two get into quite a fight, leaving my throat feeling pretty tender. Not this time round. *Fist pump* So you can imagine I started getting pretty giddy about what I could do with all this free time. I mean, my voice was on vacation, but I felt pretty good otherwise! I made a really nice-and-totally-unrealistic list of things to do including, organising spotify playlists, preparing more casual teacher worksheets, doing three days worth of laundry in one day, having a nap, and maybe writing a blog post. I scrapped the list and brought my laptop to bed. I spent enough time to create a word search for casual days, booked a casual day for next week, did a mini clean up on my spotify playlists, looked at my blog feeling no inspiration to write, turned down a different call to teach for today (can’t exactly teach without a voice), and took a nap. In the middle of the nap my mum woke me up. I forgot to put my phone in silent again. After quickly checking the message, I set back to find my comfy kind of smooshed spot on my pillow. I pressed play on my minds ‘time to go to sleep’ playlist and starting listening to random thoughts which may or may not have included teaching scenarios that will most likely never occur anywhere outside my brain – but that I go through, you know, just in case they might. Yes, I was trying to get the kids attention as a mime. I was stuck in the box and they were trying to tell me how to get out but I just couldn’t find the door. It was in the middle of this thought that I took a weird segue to a post I’d seen on Facebook. It was pretty sad to read. A beautiful women had made herself vulnerable and shared a hard moment. It was a moment of self hatred. Body hating. She was raw, and real, and acknowledged that she didn’t yet love her body, but that she was trying to learn to do so. I knew the nap was on hold because I had to start working on my blog post for number fifty three… love and accept myself.
I few posts ago. A lot of posts ago, I talked about how I’d been trying to get more serious about my health but that I’d hit a wall in my progress. I saw a friend who helped me understand that I needed to be kinder to my body in its healing process before I could expect what I’d been persistently demanding. I saw that friend more recently and this time she helped me realise that I’d been trying to love myself into a smaller size. I was withholding love from myself until I was able to achieve that goal. Which totally resonated with me. I couldn’t really see how I could love my body with my tummy overhang and my jiggly arms and excessive facial hair.
I was in a sense acting like a gardner who plants seeds and says, “Okay, I’ll give you sun and water and love, when you give me some sprouts.” Scientifically, that’s not how it works. Those plants need the nourishment in order to grow and change from seed form to seedling to plant to full potential. We are exactly the same! If we want to make changes and improve and be our better selves we need love and support while we do it. Not after.
I knew it was something I needed to do, but I was at a loss of how to actually do it.
In the world of Drama and theatre, there’s this pretty cool guy called Stanislavsky who’s known for doing some influential things. The idea of his that I want to talk about has to do with stage fright. Stanislavsky’s big claim was that there was no such thing. That actors were in fact, not afraid of the stage, as much as they were afraid of the audience. It was when they were aware of the fact that they were being watched that anxiety would set in. Stanislavsky’s cure directed actors to be so immersed in their character and their purpose on stage, that in the moment of performance they would naturally forget the audience and their anxiety would leave. That is essentially what I am learning to do.
I used to get insanely anxious when I posted something on Facebook. There were times when I’d start to feel a pang of regret for putting something out into the world because it hadn’t got as many likes as I thought it would. I let the posts worth (and consequently my own) be based on the likes and comments of others. Maybe that feels familiar? How exactly do you overcome that experience? I don’t know what might work for you, but I can tell you how I tackled it.
As part of my digital detox (blog post in the making) I decided to start a new morning ritual that included a few moments of meditation and affirmations. In these quiet morning moments I would remind myself of my strength and creativity. I’d tell myself that I was ready for change and that I’d continue to see myself and the things I did with loving eyes. I would reaffirm the beauty of my story and the confidence and joy I felt in being me.
The whole ‘affirmation’ thing was something I always saw as a pretty idea for some people, that I’d like to do, but in reality probably never would. I wasn’t that kind of person. But I did. Eventually. I just never expected it would have such a powerful influence of good in my world.
A few weeks ago, I began my first days as a casual teacher. It’s been an amazing experience, and I never would have guessed that it would become an important part in my journey of self love and acceptance. Affirmations are helping me to walk into a classroom feeling ridiculously comfortable in my own skin. Not just on a physical level, but in an I’m-a-little-eccentric-and-sometimes-I-fall-in-and-out-of-different-accents-and-make-bad-dad-jokes-to-engage-the-kids-but-I-actually-love-that-about-me kind of way. Its then the teaching that is helping to empower me as I rewrite a false belief that I created about a decade ago.
I used to be bigger and at school that made me an easy and frequent target. I quickly got self conscious and started to believe that I was the topic of conversation when I saw people whispering or laughing. It hurt. I couldn’t always be sure, but there were sometimes I definitely knew they were talking about me, which made it really easy to believe it was the case. Every. Time. But just like Stanislavsky’s cure, my affirmation work has helped me become so confident, comfortable and immersed in who I am, that the words of others don’t stick.
The other day at school, I was walking around handing out worksheets and I half heard a student make a comment that I was pretty sure was about me. I caught myself trying to discern whether it was a compliment or criticism, but before I could figure it out it was overwritten with a thought of, “well, what do I care really? I like me, and it’s nice to be liked by others, but I don’t actually need their approval.”
I was so psyched! Who knew 16 year olds would be helping me to more fully embrace myself?
I want to be very real and make it super clear that the reality of this post does not mean that I’ve ticked the box of loving and accepting myself, and that I’m now a pro. I’m not. I’m not perfect at loving Josh. Or my family. Or my friends. I try. I make mistakes. And I try again. So I’m taking the same approach with me.
But it does mean changes. Things are different and I plan to keep them that way or even better. I compliment myself. I allow myself to make mistakes without mass guilt and ridicule. I embrace my emotions. I try to make self-talk more realistic.
Two weeks ago, I was at home with a new bed frame and wanting to prove that I could put it together without any help (not necessarily for good reasons, but right now not the point). I was operating on less than a normal amount of sleep and I just couldn’t get the nuts to line up with the threading so I could screw them up properly. I’d tried using different nuts, trying different holes and it just wouldn’t work for me. I threw a tamper tantrum and told myself, “I’m pathetic, stupid and I can’t do anything.” To which a very gentle voice in my mind replied, “No, you’re not.” I sat, took a breath and thought, “I know. It just feels like it right now.” In another time I would have found it an amazing time to throw a massive pity party. Piñata and all!
This has been a long time coming and will continue for the rest of my life. I’m finding it to be a beautiful experience where once I began to look at myself differently, I find that I look different. I look happy and beautiful. I just need to make sure that I don’t let it become a superiority complex.
Remember that post I was talking about earlier? The woman in a vulnerable moment? I have a confession. I first read the post and went from feeling sad, straight to judgment.
How she can she be spending time improving her physical health, but neglect self love. Self love is so important! Its pretty much been my major focus at the moment. Doing all this physical work is pointless if she doesn’t love and accept herself.
It didn’t take me long to get down from my high horse. I had made a BIG mistake. And fast! Not only had I spent time judging someone who’s life, heart and mind I didn’t know, but I was judging a girl who walked in the same shoes that I’d been wearing for majority of my life. In my own hard moment, I somehow thought a few months of self love gave me that right. I’m not sure if she follows my blogs or if she’d even know that I am referring to her, but I am sincerely sorry all the same.
It’s women like her that I’m thankful for. They help me to see life in more real terms. They help me to feel connected to something bigger. They help inspire me. They show me goodness and bring a little more light into my world. They help to give me a reality check on where I stand and they help to keep me humble. Thank you.
When I first started my journey to self love and acceptance I would stand in the front of the mirror and tell myself that I loved all of me. I would look at my tummy and tell myself that I loved it right now. Flabby. I kept doing it. Trying to convince myself. Wondering if one day I’d be able to brainwash myself into actually doing it.
Its actually amazing. Brainwashing didn’t work. Remembering did. Gratitude did. Acceptance did. I began to remember all the tough times, and all the amazing times, and how my body had been enough to get me through both. I began to feel gratitude for all the things my body could do. For being free from so many different restrictions that could be on my body. I began to accept that this wonderful body was a work in progress. That right now didn’t define the reality of my body’s condition for the rest of my life. And that I could love it simple because it was a part of me that I literally couldn’t live without.
I kid you not. Since I’ve began all this work I have now looked in the mirror and said,
Oh, that is a nice bum, isn’t it?
Hello, tummy. Thanks for supporting me. I do love you.
Wow, you look really beautiful today!
I’m not fishing for compliments or looking for people to ra-ra me. I tell you this, I share my story with you, so you can know it is possible. Not just for me. You can have it too. If you want it. Yes, you can. Rewrite that false belief that tells you its a nice idea for other people, but not you. It can be for you. You just need to tell yourself you can. Be gentle, and you’ll find yourself there one day. You are worthy of the love you can give.